The modern rubber duck may be manufactured with a plastic that contains PVCs. PVCs have harmful toxins in them and are found in more than just children's toys. The big deal about PVCs in children's toys is the habit of children sticking their toys in their mouths. Ingestion of PVCs can cause irreversible long-term health hazards.
PVC is polyvinyl chloride and is more commonly known as vinyl. It is extremely harmful to human health and the environment and is more common than you think. PVCs are found in your shower curtain, clothes, shoes, cars, flooring, wall coverings, cleaning product containers, strollers, table cloths, drinking straws, office supplies, lotions, shampoos, credit cards, and children's toys like rubber ducks, just to name a few. [see http://www.besafenet.com/pvc/pvcproducts.htm for a list] If you can remember that new shower curtain smell and other common household items that smell like it, chances are they contain harmful PVCs. PVCs are even more harmful when burned and is very hazardous to firefighters. They are also not environmentally friendly because they do not recycle because the chemicals can contaminate an entire recycling batch.
The more unsettling feeling about PVCs is that there is an alternative to PVC that is safer and cost-effective and that PVCs are not phased out yet. It will take time and there are campaigns (see http://www.besafenet.com/pvc/index.htm with a rubber duck right on the home page!) and demonstrations for government recognition.
One campaign the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice (CHEJ) has is the "Betty the Be Safe Ducky." Betty is a 25-foot inflatable yellow duck that is a symbol of the innocent household products containing PVCs. Visit her site to read more and to see where she's been! [http://www.besafenet.com/pvc/duck.htm]
One demonstration includes 1,000 phthalate-free rubber ducks marching to the capital (see http://www.environmentcalifornia.org/newsroom/environmental-health/environmental-health/one-thousand-toxic-free-rubber-duckies-march-to-capitol-public-health-advocates-urge-governor-to-sign-toxic-toys-bill).